Friday, December 31, 2010

Policy-making leaders to intervene over aerial spraying issue

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Regional policy leaders of this region are dipping its hands to revisit the issue of aerial spraying and look “objectively” into its effects in a bid to make a position that is not based on accusations from parties for nor against it.

Vicente T. Lao, RDC XI co-chair and Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) chair, said they are keen on reassessing the pros and cons of aerial spraying, this time with their participation as they have seen how several campaign groups have made their position based on sentiments.

“Earlier, MinBC did not intervene (on the issue). But evidences (surfaced) that some groups fabricated facts to advance their cause,” Lao told journalists recently at the Marco Polo Hotel.

The unresolved proposal to ban aerial spraying of fungicides has been identified by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) as one of the three major challenges to the region’s economic activity in 2010.

In 2009, the Social Development Committee of RDC recommended an independent body to conduct a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study on the effects of aerial spraying of fungicides. This, after an earlier study commissioned by Department of Health that revealed traces of insecticides that cause cancer were found in residents in Davao del Sur was found to be inconclusive.

“We also do not want to compromise public health, but we will not base our position on what is the sentiment of lobby groups,” said Lao.

The Pest Management Council of the Philippines (PMCP), meanwhile, endorses aerial spraying as the safest and most effective method for the control of the dreaded black sigatoka virus, the pest responsible for the decimation of the banana industry in Latin America in the early 1960s which caused the shift of global demand to Asia, principally the Philippines.

In Congress, there are three new separate bills introduced in Congress filed by Reps. Jonathan C. Yambao, Rufus B. Rodriguez and Akbayan partylist Rep. Arlene “Kaka” J. Bag-ao that seeks to ban the said agricultural practice. This development prompted some banana growers in Mindanao to ask the Department of Agriculture to look into the mater that the cultural practice not be banned on baseless decisions.


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